‘Saying goodbye was one of the hardest things I have ever done’

Aug 14, 2021
Karen says her heart has been broken by this loss in her life. Source: Getty Images

I have buried both my parents and seen two of my sisters pass away over the years. Tears were shed, grief dealt with, but having to euthanise my 20-year-old cat Gracie was one of the hardest things I have ever done. It completely undid me. I felt utterly bereft. And before you have a go at me saying “its just an animal” let me elaborate and do me the courtesy of reading the whole story before you pass judgement or comment.

Gracie came into my world shortly after I returned to Australia in 2000. She was an RSPCA stray and was already one-year-old when I chose her. A little grey tabby, she caught my eye and I took her home. I live alone, and have done for many years — so Gracie was my companion. Older than all of my grandchildren, she just was always there. A quiet and undemanding girl, she would enjoy a warm lap and, of course, I let her sleep on my bed.

Through several house moves she adapted well. Through a flood and threat of bushfires, she managed. Always a tough and healthy little moggy, she never required many vet visits so was not a great expense.

She was always there when I returned from a holiday or after having a surgery. Her warm little furry body was a constant; a reassuring presence in my world.

As she grew older, I felt she was matching me as I aged. We both were bit cranky and liked things the way we liked them. I pandered to her needs, and willingly slept on the corner of the bed while she sprawled in the middle. The softness of her fur, the gentleness of her eyes and her companionship as we would sit outside getting some sun meant so much to me.

I recently had surgery and was not as perceptive as I should have been. Sure, her fur was getting matted, she had had one shave to remove the tangles, but could not have another due to the anaesthetic being too strong, so I just tried to comb them out. She was 20 after all. Most of the day she spent sleeping and much of the night she wandered around and kept me awake.

Recently I noticed she was bumping into things. She had gone blind overnight. She would get herself stuck into places and I would have to get her out. She was hobbling and disorientated. She looked distressed and it hurt me so much.

I knew I had to do it. I put it off and put it off, then made the phone call.

The vet and the nurse came to my home and I said goodbye to my beautiful girl. I’m crying as I write this. I’ve cried a lot since we buried her. I will not get another as I am renting and it makes things harder. Yet I am sad. I loved her dearly and miss her so much.

Let me tell you, grieving for a pet is real. Please never pass cruel judgement on those of us who have loved our pets and mourn their deaths.

Have you ever felt this way about a pet? Has the depth of emotion after losing someone or something surprised you?

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